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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Small Parties Quit Luzhkov's Group

In a sign of potential trouble for ambitious Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, two minor parties have announced they are departing from Luzhkov's political movement, Otechestvo, or Fatherland.

Dmitry Rogozin, the leader of the Congress of Russian Communities, a conservative movement devoted to the protection of the rights of Russians living in the former Soviet republics, said Thursday he was suspending his movement's membership in Otechestvo, or Fatherland.

Rogozin, who is also a member of State Duma, said he was displeased with the close cooperation between Fatherland and the All Russia movement headed by Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev. He also criticized Luzhkov's movement for rescheduling Moscow's mayoral elections and indicated he was not happy about the party functionaries associated with Fatherland.

"I am concerned that such a circle would kill Luzhkov," Rogozin said Thursday.

In a similar move, Stepan Sulakshin, another Duma deputy and the leader of Russian Movement for Political Centrism, announced at his party's congress this week that he and his organization will navigate through the Duma election campaign independet of Fatherland.

Sulakshin was one of the founding members of Fatherland and organized regional contacts for Luzhkov at the dawn of his movement. But this week Sulakshin said that he was distancing himself from Luzhkov because of the persisting "rules of the Moscow tsarist court."

Alexander Vladislavlev, Fatherland's head ideologist, responded to Rogozin's action by suggesting that Rogozin's public divorce from Fatherland was the result of pressure from the Kremlin, which has been feuding with Luzhkov.

Vladislavlev warned Rogozin that he will sabotage his political future if he allows himself to be used "for destruction."

Other Fatherland allies denied that the departure of the two small movements was a harbinger of serious trouble for Luzhkov. "This is rubbish. The ship is sailing on. There is no trouble," said Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Fond Politika think tank and a member of Fatherland movement.

It is more likely that the departures were indicative of the movement's growing pains, one analyst said.

"This is a manifestation of Luzhkov style," said Nikolai Petrov, an analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Center. "Naturally, many politicians with small resources but rather large ambitions feel left out. And the Kremlin is banking on it."